It’s my turn on the blog tour for Nemesister by Sophie Jonas-Hill and she is here to shine the spotlight on her main character, over to you Sophie …
Thank you for asking me to talk about one of my characters in my new novel Nemesister, it’s been a hard choice to make as it’s a relatively small cast and I feel as if I could easily talk at length about all of them, but in the end I’ve decided to talk about the main character. There’s a certain ambiguity at the start about who she is and what she’s called, so if you don’t mind I’m going to play along with this and give her the same name she’s given by the man she meets in the first chapter. He introduced himself as Red, and decides to call her Margarita, as she can’t remember who she is and has no I.D on her.
She’s in her early to mid twenties, single, no kids and although having the potential to go to an Ivy League college, dropped out of school and has since done a series of fairly dead end jobs, in office admin or bar and restaurant work. For a while she worked at the swanky health club her parents were members of, so she could use the facilities for free, but then she moved out of home to get away from them and has been working in her current job in an office for a year and a half. I have to be honest that as I’ve never had a regular job, I’m not sure what she might actually do, but I think she works with some kind of consumer research company.
When did you create her?
She first came into existence to fit the situation I dreamed of, which was a literal dream where I was inside a dark shack, the door opened flooding it with sunlight, and there was a man outside. Other than that all I remember about the dream was the sun baked wood of a step outside, and the rush of emotion and suspense which came with it and refused to leave me until it eventually crystallised into the outline for the opening scene in the book. In a way, once I had the two characters in the situation, I had to unpick for myself who would end up there, and so a lot of who Margarita is came from who might make the choices she does, for good or bad. She had to be the person she is to get where she was, and then the book had no choice other than to be what it was as it’s her story.
What do you like the most about her?
I think I like her sense of loyalty and justice best about her, though of course it’s also her greatest vulnerability, as it’s something which is exploited by people with their own agendas. I also like her humour, she’s quite dry and sardonic and has a wisecracking edge which is usually reserved for male characters, so it’s nice to find a woman who uses humour to detach herself from emotional situations and remain aloof.
Did you have to make many changes to her in the early stages of the editing process?
I don’t think she was really changed by the editing process, I think it was more a question of bringing out her back story. I knew loads about her, but it’s always a delicate balancing act as to how much back story to show and when to do it, as it can slow the pace of a book, always an issue when writing a thriller. The main editing work was going back and writing some scenes to illustrate her earlier life, to give the reader a better sense of why she does what she does, but I didn’t really change that story at all.
Does she have any similarities with anyone real?
People often ask if your characters are drawn from life, and it’s always hard to answer – they usually start out as a composite of many physical and emotional traits drawn from people you know, but once you’ve developed them they stand alone. Sometimes it’s helpful to cast them in your head as a certain actor, just so you can visualise them more easily, but with Margarita I’ve never really done that. I have a vague idea about who she’s like physically, but she’s rather a chameleon of a person by nature, in that she consciously and unconsciously changes herself to suit her surroundings. She’s a bit of a grifter, or has had to become one, something which has cost her to lose a little of her true self. The book deals with her trying to find herself both because she starts it having lost her memory, but also because she’s no longer sure who she is anymore, which part of her is real and which imagined.
What are your plans for her?
I have written her sequel (Broken Ponies) which is something I’ve not done before and I was surprised as how easily her story continued, so I’ll be working on that with Matthew at Urbane books to get it ready for readers. I have a lot of ideas for a third book too, though at the moment I need to see how the second one turns out to judge which of them I’m going to focus on for the third, but I don’t think I’m quite done with her yet.
Would you be friends in real life?
I think we’d be friends in real life, though we’d be a bit of an odd couple. I think I’d be someone she’d see as a safe place for when things were getting really tough, someone who wouldn’t ask questions but just give her a bed for the night and breakfast, which is something we’d all like to have. I think she’d call me from time to time and not really talk about anything until we’d both be laughing at nothing and feel better about life, without knowing why, so maybe I see myself more as a really cool Aunt to her?
Thank you for joining me today Sophie, she certainly sounds interesting!
If you’d like to find out more about Margarita, here’s the blurb …
Urbane Publications (6 July 2017)
An American Gothic thriller of deception and obsession, slicked in sweat and set in the swamps of Louisiana.
It’s a psychological mystery where the female protagonist stumbles into a deserted shack with no memory but a gun in her hand. There she meets an apparent stranger, Red, and the two find themselves isolated and under attack from unseen assailants.
Barricaded inside for a sweltering night, cabin fever sets in and brings her flashes of insight which might be memory or vision as the swamp sighs and moans around her.
Exploring in the dark she finds hidden keys that seem to reveal her identity and that of her mysterious host, but which are the more dangerous – the lies he’s told her, or the ones she’s told herself?
Sound good? Go and get your copy over at Amazon UK and be sure to keep up with the rest of the tour …